Yesterday I lost the car key. Today I woke up too late, put on two different knee high socks, one white, one blue, was too late for my first client meeting, couldn't get the internet to work (weird!), gave three people the wrong date for an upcoming workshop, and the golden crown on top of it all; instead of swallowing my vitamin supplement and giving the dog his thyroid medication, I mixed the two pills up and fed my vitamin to the dog, and blissfully swallowed the dog's hypothyroid pill. (oh dear..)
Yep, that's right. I am a certified mindful life strategist and today I completely, utterly suck at being mindful. (don't let a pretty picture fool you!)
Now isn't that interesting? You probably expect me to somehow diminish my mindlessness and convince you that there is some hidden brilliant zen master within me, but there really is not.
See, I am a type A personality. I am a driven, ambitious, hard working, multi tasking busy bee who does not like to sit down. Meditations never worked for me. After 5 seconds of 'focus on your breath', my mind says 'see y'all later!' and drifts off to things to do, things to buy, things to become, things to watch out for, behavior of myself I don't like, etc. My mind spins me around, whipping me along, pushing me into action, faster, further, better, more. It might sound exhausting, and it is!
Combine that with no sleep (hello farting dog, kicking child, buzzing phone), an upcoming workshop and a cold, and you have a recipe for mindlessness 2.0. And yup, here we are today.
Mark, my partner, is the zen master himself. He has no clue what it feels to feel this way. For him being calm comes natural. The 36 hour labor to get our son to leave my womb even made the nurse pass out, but not Mark, he stayed steady as a rock, never batting an eye.
Now you might think I am some sort of weakly drama queen with first world problems. And you are right, but I am actually really good with disasters. My mind thrives on problems. It bites itself into a challenge like a rabid dog and works calmly and efficiently to get things done and resolved. I survived a fire work explosion that killed 20 and left 1000 injured and when accidentally dropped off in the middle of the night in the Vietnamese countryside by myself, my mind had no problems with figuring out how to keep me safe. But that same brilliant problem-solver-mind, is sometimes not very good at keeping me safe when I am already safe.
Like right now. I live an amazing life. No shit, I really do. I have an amazing partner. An amazing child. Amazing friends. A wonderful life purpose through my work as a life strategist with amazing clients. Three horses, three dogs, a cat. A gorgeous house with a pool, and knock on wood, a body that is functioning exactly like it should.
But today, that stubborn, mindless mind of mine does not know how to relax and feel safe, protected, cared for, loved, peaceful. Without boring you with the details of how a mind can arrive at this point (it has its reasons) I realize it is time to work on mindfulness again.
It is not a coincidence that within 24 hours I lost the car key, was late, put on two different socks, got a terrible cold and swallowed a dog pill. It is a product of my limbic system raging, screaming at me in an attempt to protect me. So I ask, 'dear limbic system, what are you trying to protect me from?' From living in this body for 36 years I am pretty aware of what it is afraid of, and it is quite frankly pretty ridiculous: it fears rejection, disapproval, future financial issues, being ridiculed, dismissed. Apocalypse? Bring it on. Fire? Tornadoes? War? No worries whatsoever. I traveled the world solo, went diving in caves, despite being terrified of flying stepped aboard airplanes hundreds of times and even jumped out of one at 30.000 ft to experience free-fall. Yet the fear of disapproval and rejection brings me down on my knees.
Funny, isn't it? It's those ingrained triggers, those habitual responses to elements in my external environment that really get me. I have worked hard on re-hardwiring my brain, and usually I am pretty good at stepping off the bat-shit-crazy bandwagon and letting go. But not today. Not when I lack sleep. Not when I am trying to do too many things at once.
So, here it goes. This is what somebody does who has a relapse at being proficient in mindfulness, but desperately needs it to work. I am going to ask myself the question that I ask my clients; “What could you do today, one small step, one little thing, that does not seem outrageous, to bring you back in a more calm state of mind?”
And my answer for today is:
“Sing that horrific Frozen Song of “Let It Go” until your limbic system caves in and surrenders to the peace that surrounds you. Go outside, feel the sun on your face, hear the chomping of the horses on hay, feel the dirt beneath your feet and listen to the birds sing. Take a deep breath and another, and just one more. And then, take a nap. No, for real. No facebook scrolling while you lay down, a real nap. With your eyes closed. Yes. Just. Like. That. Peace out. Zzzz. Zzzz. “
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"We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails." - Dolly Parton